Pre-operative fasting for elective surgical patients
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Pre-operative fasting for elective surgical patients

Alun Woodhouse Programme director, Medical and surgical nursing, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Aim To explore the knowledge, past experience, perceptions and opinions of nurses working in surgical units at a local hospital with regard to pre-operative fasting times.

Method A qualitative research design, using a grounded theory approach, was adopted. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a sample of 15 staff nurses employed within five surgical units in one hospital.

Findings After thematic analysis, three core categories emerged from the data: knowledge, practice and systems. Nurses stated that there were significant barriers to an individual approach to preoperative fasting within the organisation. These included lack of knowledge and skills, limited autonomy with regard to changing practice, and an operating room system that contributed to patients being fasted for a longer period than necessary.

Conclusion Further research is required on how long patients should be fasted before theatre. In addition, all healthcare professionals require education pertaining to best practice, and organisations should have in place clear policies and guidelines to prevent variances in fasting procedures.

Nursing Standard. 20, 21, 41-48. doi: 10.7748/ns2006.


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review